Sunday, November 12, 2017

Have We All Become Judge Dredd?

When it comes to Star Trek vs. Star Wars . . . wars, I have to admit I’m pretty much on the side of Star Trek. Not that I dislike Star Wars, it’s just that I never got into that universe (or, more appropriately, that “galaxy far far away”). I don’t think I’ve ever watched a Star Wars movie more than once. I may have, but don’t recall. Now, Star Trek, on the other hand . . .


I think my love for Star Trek is partly due to my love of all things “time” related. I also enjoy the stories of us Earthlings and where the future may take us.


My wife and I have worked our ways through The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, and Deep Space Nine. We are in the first season of Voyager currently. Being that we have several seasons to go with that series, and the entire Enterprise series as well, it may be a while before we get to the newest (current) incarnation: Discovery.


However, in the “I Want That Exact Same Suit But In A Completely Different Style” category, there is the newest creation from the mind of Seth MacFarlane: The Orville.


Oh. My. God. I LOVE The Orville. It is so much like Star Trek while at the same time being nothing like Star Trek. Each of the nine episodes (as of this writing) have been a fantastic ride - and very different in style from each other. I’m excited to say that the series has been green-lit for a second season.


The episodes have also been timely in the issues they have tackled. One such episode, “Majority Rule” (S01 E07) is almost a distress call to our current society.


As the episode is described, “Ed sends a team to find missing anthropologists on a planet similar to 21st century Earth; the mission goes awry when they realize the planet uses a public voting system to determine punishment.”


Today we are inundated in social media. Facebook and Twitter have been daily topics in the news. Was there collusion in the 2016 election by Russia via the purchase and display of political ads in Facebook? President Trump continually “kicks the hornet’s nest” with his tweets. And now, celebrities of all ilks are being “outed” as sex offenders and child molesters - many judged guilty in the “court” of social media as if it were fact.


Recently, George Takei had spoken out against Kevin Spacey over Spacey’s recent child molestation charges, announcing himself as gay, and his reinforcement of the stereotype that conflate said homosexuality with pedophilia.


What happened next? George Takei was accused of sexually assaulting a model back in 1981.


I saw George Takei’s rebuttal/apology/explanation in Twitter. The comment thread that followed was people believing it to be true because the victim is always the truthful one, people believing it to be false because false accusations are common, and people wanting to believe George Takei because he is George Takei.


Which brings me back to The Orville episode.


Have we become a society that allows social media to be the voice of reason, and ultimately judge, jury, and prosecution? Does anyone else see the danger here?

From "The Orville" - "Majority Rule"

Taylor Swift went through hell online because she didn’t say something against the Nazi march QUICK ENOUGH.  


People agree with things (“like” things), or disagree with things, just so their social circles will accept them. There is dopamine hits for liking and hating things online.


It has gotten to the point that if a man had looked at a woman the wrong way that woman will cry out on social media that she was molested. And more so, there are women who are saying #MeToo so they don’t “suffer” the same consequences as Taylor Swift.


The danger is that when all forms of harassment are classified as the most heinous, the most heinous will no longer be the most heinous. They will lose their impact (and therefore the attention such vile acts should receive.)


I’m going to confess something: I’m a white male. I was born this way. It was not a choice. And therefore, I can be accused of a life of “white privilege”. And being male, I am automatically guilty of sexual harassment if I’ve ever given a woman a compliment. Am I perfect? God no. Have I ever said or done something that might be deemed inappropriate? Absolutely. As Jesus made it so clear, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.”


You won’t find a stone in MY hand.


But on social media, there are many with both hands cocked and ready to throw a heater.


Does that sound extreme? It should. And if it doesn’t?


Well, I guess that is something to think about.


© Emittravel 2017

Sunday, November 5, 2017

To Know the Known

To Know the Known



Who is this God that I follow?
Who am I to follow Him?
To inspire song.
To comfort in sorrow.
To cradle the face of a child.
To wipe the tears from eyes
strained towards heaven.
In somber solitude I seek to abandon,
to achieve what I am unable to grasp.
To let go of the here,
to obtain the Now.
I am awed in Your presence.
Totally at peace in my frustration
for that of which eludes me.
When I think I’ve come to an understanding,
You turn and I am struck dumb.
I glimpse at Your glory and collapse.
Unable to behold Your beauty.
Your splendor.
Sinful.
Arrogant.
I claim to hold a stallion by the reins;
to find I hold an ass.
The reins in my hand
steer the bit in my own mouth.
I long to know the Known.
To hold a piece of eternity.
Fallen man I am.
I discard the pride of reason
to become the fool of God.
To let go of achievement
for the brokenness of the humble.
Who is this God that I follow?
And who am I to follow Him?
 
J.P. Wiegand
© Emittravel 1999


It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything about my spiritual journey. Many of you who have been reading my blog know that I was a very involved member of a church for YEARS. I took a sabbatical from October 2014 until about May of 2015. You’ll find much of my experience leading up to and during expressed here.

I returned to that church after the end of my sabbatical until the end of September. Since then I’ve been “churchless”. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to join with friends at their church to play in their worship team since then, but at this point I’ve no “desire” to become a regular church goer. What does the future hold? I’m not sure. This is still a journey, and I’m still a traveler on it.

The above poem was initially published to www.renderosity.com in January of 2007. The comment below accompanied it. I think it is still relevant:

Religion: from the word "religare" meaning "to tie back" or "strangle". The balancing act of faith in God, and mindless obedience to a religion. For me this is a lifelong struggle; the desire to know God, versus the arrogance of my own humanity. Do you seek to love someone JUST for what they can do for you? That's manipulation. If it doesn't work that way on Earth, why would we think it would work in the heavenlies? Just a thought. -j.p.

© Emittravel 2017

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Circle(s) of Life

After reflecting on my last blog, I found myself thinking about those I’ve known over the years who I seem to have “lost touch” with. You know what I mean. You have people like that in (or, more appropriately, “out of”) your life.

With time seeming to pass faster and faster as we get older, many people you’ve once had relationships with seem to have slipped away with the sand of the hourglass. But that’s normal.

Over the years we have grown into lives. And so have those people. Unfortunately, many times the lives grown are in different gardens. Work. Church. Social groups. In many different ways, we have developed different circles. Like a Venn diagram, it is where those different circles overlap that we meet. And, like a Venn diagram, the portions where meeting does not take place is greater.

And that is where we find ourselves with distant friends.

My suggestion then, is to focus on those closest to you now; where the overlaps are the greatest.

Of those in my life, the one that is closest to me brings me the greatest joy: my wife.

There is no one I’d rather travel the hourglass sands with than Lisa.

I’m going to let you into one of those special things about her that thrill me. As a matter of fact, it is this incident that was the impetus for this particular post.

We went to a Halloween party over a friend’s house last night. It’s an annual event that has taken place over the last 26 years. It’s always a lot of fun. One of the folks brings a karaoke system and sets up in the basement. Over the course of the evening people go down to join in. No one uses a microphone. People just get up in the group and sing along.

Towards the end of the evening, Lisa and I headed down to the basement. Understand: my wife does not sing publicly. That’s not her thing. I have no problem with doing that. I’m no singer. It’s just that it takes an awful lot for me to embarrass myself.

At one point I got to watch Lisa sitting on the couch singing along with one of the songs. And there was nothing better to me than to watch her smiling face as she just let it all hang out. It’s one of those rare moments that sometimes happens at home with the stereo on that I get to soak in - and watch the sands stand still.

And that’s what I mean. It’s those moments of pure joy that make you stop and actively acknowledge the presence of someone in the center of your circle.

So, take a moment to think about those closest to you. Reach out to them before the circles stop intersecting.

Don’t let living get in the way of living.

© Emittravel 2017

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Stuff My Brain Says #82

“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives." - tagline of the soap opera "Days of Our Lives"


Unlike an hourglass, however, it seems that as we get older the sand passes through faster and faster. The immortality of youth is quickly replaced by the mortality of the aged, and the eerie robed fella with the scythe seems to get closer and closer to our door.


One thing that I noticed is that when you are young, old age is approximately 15 years from wherever you are at. When you are 10, 25 is old! When you reach 20, 35 is old. And so on and so on.


Until the point where you pass the 50th orbit around the sun. At that point it seems to reverse. Whereas 65 is no longer old, 35 is now the new child. And the farther along we get from 50, so does those who follow from a 15 year distance. When you hit 60, a person passing at 75 seems way too young. And the 45 year old is barely wet behind the ears.


So, how about you? Do you have more sand at the top or the bottom of your hourglass? Are there any changes in your life you need to make in order to make the most out of that which remains?





Remember: you have until the sands run out.


© Emittravel 2017




Sunday, October 15, 2017

Find a Team and Hang On

I had posted a comment concerning the recent ALCS (American League Championship Series) game between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees, and a good friend of mine responded on Facebook with “I can’t believe you can bear to watch these games!”

Where our Indians flag was displayed

That friend is not anti-baseball. She is a hurt Cleveland Indians fan. And being that the Indians lost the American League Division Series in Game Five against the New York Yankees (which means, for those of you not really following baseball, that their season is OVER), watching any baseball game without Chief Wahoo represented is a bit painful.

Where it is displayed now . . . 

I can’t blame her. But I responded, “I’m rooting for the Astros to beat the Yankees and the Dodgers to beat the Cubs. And then the Astros to beat the Dodgers. If Cleveland isn’t in it, I’m still going to love the game. Find a team to root for and hang on!”

And that is the way to get over the hurt of losing: find a team to root for and hang on.

That’s not exactly difficult for me. I love the game of baseball. I really do. As I’ve written before, my wife and I like to attend minor league games whenever we can. When we go we root, root, root for the home team. We are big time Toledo Mudhens fans, and they are the AAA team for the Detroit Tigers. Now, if we were to attend a Mudhens / Clippers game (the AAA team in Columbus for the Cleveland Indians) in Toledo, we’d be hard pressed to root for the Mudhens. Fortunately, we haven’t been put in that situation (yet)!

So, even though the Indians are out of it, I’m still going to enjoy the game. This means I had to find a team to root for.

I have a Twitter friend (@BritniB714) who is from Houston. Knowing her beloved Astros are in it, I’m rooting for them. Besides. They are playing against the team that beat the Indians (the New York Yankees), so that makes it easy. In the National League, it’s the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Chicago Cubs. Since the Cubs beat the Indians in Game Seven of the World Series last year, rooting for the Dodgers is easy too. And once the World Series starts, it’s American League all the way, baby!

This past weekend we got to enjoy a few games. We watched the Astros win the first two of their series, and the Dodgers win the first of theirs. We’ve been really excited over here! Great games.

When watching the Indians during their post-season, the games have been played on a different network than normal. We love the Sportstime Ohio commentators. They are Cleveland fans, obviously, but that doesn’t mean they talk down the opposing team. They call a good game. If a good play is made, they praise it. If errors are made, they call them. They tell stories in between pitches covering players from both teams. A great group of guys.

When the post-season started, we started listening to the MLB.com app audio stream. This allowed us the ability to listen to a local radio station instead of the (non-Sportstime Ohio) TV announcers. And unlike using the radio, the audio and video sync is close enough to not drive you crazy.

After the Indians were out of it, I’d listen (in the Jeep) to the Houston announcers call the Astros/Yankees games. Great fun.

This past weekend, my wife and I were staying at the Punderson State Park Lodge. So, we caught the games on whatever channel was playing them - along with listening to the announcers of that particular channel.

During the Cubs/Dodgers game (played in Los Angeles), a play occurred that was a bit controversial. Not only was the play controversial, one of the announcers couldn’t help but provide some “color commentary” that really annoyed me.

Let me explain:

The Dodgers were up to bat. They had a man on second base. The batter hit out to left field, where Schwarber fielded it and threw it ALL THE WAY to home plate, just as the runner made it all the way from second to home. The catcher, stuck his left leg out, blocking the runner from being able to tag the base. The runner had to go around the catcher, missing the base completely, and the catcher stood up and tagged the runner. An out.

That play was challenged and overturned. He was safe. The reason being that the catcher is NOT allowed to block the path of the runner, UNLESS he had to in order to catch the ball. The catcher clearly did not have to.

Now, the rule was upheld and the Dodgers got the run. The Cubs coach got so mad he yelled at the umpire just enough to get thrown out of the game. (imagine a fist-pump emoji here)

The part that got me so annoyed was that the TV announcer (obviously a Cubs fan) said that he understood the rule, but it took away the “athleticism of the game”. The rule is recent and for years that would have been a good play by the catcher.

Really?!?

I’m no sports announcer. I’m just a simple fan. And apparently, unlike the announcer, I wasn't there in 1846 when baseball got started. So, I really should give him the benefit of the doubt.

Bulls**t!

If a catcher blocking the plate is considered the “athleticism of the game”, then the runner should be able to PLOW that catcher over - cleats first. Just like the old days. Is that what the announcer meant?

I’m almost sure that he would consider today’s football also missing the “athleticism of the game”. After all, they don’t wear leather helmets anymore, and they use all of that stupid padding!

It’s announcers like that that make watching the game so exasperating.

But it’s baseball. And I love the game. So, I am going to find a team to root for and hang on!

And so should you.

© Emittravel 2017

Sunday, October 8, 2017

There’s No Time Like . . . Yesterday

So, yesterday morning I made a visit to the local BMV (Bureau of Motor Vehicles) in order to buy myself an “early” birthday present. Yeah. “Happy birthday to me. Get tags for a fee.” I seriously believe that the state has no idea how birthdays are supposed to work.

Afterwards, I joined my wife in our sun porch for some coffee and a couple of donuts. Coffee and donuts. Either that is the perfect Saturday breakfast, or I unconsciously want to be a cop. . .

Anywho, during our conversation I came upon a great topic for my blog. So, I decided that I’d write about that. Tomorrow.

It’s tomorrow. And I have NO idea what that topic was. And even if I was able to determine it (my wife being a great resource for my memory losses), the impact of the topic is lost.

Back when my writing consisted mostly of poetry, I knew that if I felt an emotion, I would either need to drop everything and start writing, or that emotion would eventually dissipate and I would have nothing from which to write. In other words, my muse would walk out and I’d be left alone with nothing to work with.

The same thing applies to writing this blog; though this is more a pressure cooker relief valve than an emotionally creative outlet.

I guess the lesson is that if you do anything that gets its inspiration from something fleeting, you either make that doing a priority (drop everything - NOW), or you will lose the muse.

Are you the creative type? What do you do that is dependent upon “external” influences? Drop me a comment or reply. I’d love to hear it.

Now, what WAS it that I was planning on writing about?!?

© Emittravel 2017

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A Tip of the Cap

As I write this, the Cleveland Indians are playing their last game of the regular season.

The last game.

Well, fortunately, NOT the last game of the year. Just the regular season.

At this point in the season the Indians have secured their spot in the postseason as the American League Central Division Champions. They will play the winner of the Wild Card Game and hopefully make it all the way to the World Series!

Now, as a Tribe fan, I have to admit that I REALLY hope they go all the way and win the World Series. Not even remotely shy about that. But as a baseball fan, I’m telling you that the number one reason I’m excited is that baseball (at least for Cleveland) is not over at the end of the game today.

Just before today’s game, the Cleveland Browns went ahead and secured the 0-4 stat after losing to the Cincinnati Bengals 31-7. And no, I didn’t give much time or attention to the game. You see, football is what you watch when there is no baseball.

I have so enjoyed this regular season. I’ve watched more baseball than last year - including five times AT Progressive Field for a home game. (Yes, I’m toying with the idea of becoming a season ticket holder . . . But don’t tell my wife!) I’ve loved nights where my wife and I have gone out to a local Tavern to enjoy dinner, catching several innings. To listen to more innings on the drive home on the radio - gotta love Tom Hamilton (@TomHamiltonCLE) excitement and Jim Rosenhaus’ (@IndiansRadio) insights! Then finishing the game at home watching SportsTime Ohio (@SportsTimeOhio) with play-by-play calls (and in-between banter) by Rick Manning and Matt Underwood (@stomattu). And who doesn’t love the interviews, fun, and rivalry with mascot Mustard, of Andre Knott (@DreKnott)?!?

Then, once the game has ended, It’s time for the post-game Indians Live show with AL Pawlowski (@AlPawlowski) and Jensen Lewis (@JLEWFifty).

Sure, those guys will be there pre- and post-game throughout the rest of the postseason, but it won’t be the same as hearing them IN the games calling the plays. For that we’ll miss you guys.

Even more than watching the game, it’s enjoying it with other fans. And the Cleveland Indians have the best fans in the world. Be it at the ballpark, or in the tavern, the energy and joy is contagious.

The game is almost over. It’s the top of the 9th. Win or lose, I’m proud of these guys. Go all the way or not does not matter overall. It’s the professionalism and joy with which they have played this game where they have truly hit one out of the park.

Thanks guys.

© Emittravel 2017